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Sculpture with a Torch

Sculpture with a Torch

John Rood
Copyright Date: 1963
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 120
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  • Book Info
    Sculpture with a Torch
    Book Description:

    John Rood, a sculpture and former professor of art at the University of Minnesota, provides in this book a practical, how-to-do-it discussion of the technique of welded metal sculpture. In addition to serving as an instruction manual for students and artists working with welded sculpture, the book will be helpful to art critics, connoisseurs, and others, who will gain greater insight into this kind of art by knowing something of the processes involved. In an introductory chapter the author discusses welded sculpture as an art form. In separate chapters he considers oxyacetylene welding, equipment, finishes, brazing, techniques, and arc-welding. He gives a step-by-step account of the making of a piece of welded sculpture for an architectural setting. A chapter on the making of sketches and a list of safety rules conclude the text, and there is a brief bibliography. The book is profusely illustrated with photographs showing the author’s own metal sculpture, works of other artists, and tools and equipment. John Rood is also the author of Sculpture in Wood, and his art is critically discussed and portrayed in John Rood’s Sculpture by Bruno Schneider, both published by the University of Minnesota Press._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6423-8
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-2)
    (pp. 3-8)

    MANY sculptors of the present time have turned to the welding technique, working directly in metal. One reason for this is that welding is an industrial technique: it belongs to the twentieth century — as do glass, concrete, and steel in architecture — just as carving in stone and wood belonged to earlier times.

    It is interesting that art students introduced to the welding technique take to it with enthusiasm. These students, born just before or during World War II, feel a kinship with welding which they do not feel for the older techniques of modeling and carving. They are used to...

    (pp. 9-13)

    OF ALL the major techniques for making sculpture, the latest, oxyacetylene welding, is perhaps the easiest and the most quickly learned. But this ease and swiftness in learning the technique can be a trap for the beginner; he will find himself with the ability to do anything he wishes, but without enough depth of knowledge to go very far. My observation is that sculptors with basic training in the older techniques — modeling in clay, carving directly in stone or wood — adapt themselves to the welding technique with much happier results than those who take up welding first to the exclusion...

    (pp. 14-22)

    WHEN you have decided to invest in welding equipment, my advice is to find a good dealer (and if he isn’t you will soon find out!); he will be most cooperative. I consider my own dealer a personal friend whom I happen to like very much both inside and outside of our business dealings. He is always available for advice and consultation or to demonstrate new products or materials. I also find his assistance invaluable when I buy such supplies as metals, because very often he knows where they are available at bargain prices — perhaps left-over odds and ends of...

    (pp. 23-25)

    WELDING by the oxyacetylene method joins two pieces of metal by heating them to the melting point, the two pieces fusing at the point of contact. To accomplish this, oxygen and acetylene are mixed in the proper proportions in a welding torch, producing a temperature of approximately 6,000° Fahrenheit — hotter than any other gas flame. (The exact temperature is not known. Some authorities place it at 5,300° F., others at 6,300° F.)

    Proper combustion of the gases is achieved by using one part acetylene to two and a half parts of oxygen. Most of the oxygen — one and a half...

    (pp. 26-30)

    BRAZING technique differs from welding technique in that two pieces of metal are not joined together by fusing them. Rather, an alloy is applied in rod form at a temperature below the melting temperature of the metals being joined. The joint is made by the alloy’s entering the porous structure of the two pieces of metal — referred to as the parent metal — being joined. This joint, if properly made, is in most cases as strong and often stronger than the parent metal.

    There are many kinds of alloys used in brazing and these various alloys result in a variety of...

    (pp. 31-36)

    FIRST one must have an idea. The sculptureAnglesbegan with the shapes of birds in flight and this idea was worked through a series of drawings (Plate 21). Finally I decided to abstract the idea into a design of angles with as little reference to birds as possible.

    Some sculptors make many sketches before beginning work. I usually do not, for personal reasons explained in an earlier book.* I prefer to work directly in the material when possible because my experience has shown that when the sculpture begins to take shape in three dimensions, changes are bound to occur....

    (pp. 37-39)

    WHEN the welding of a piece of sculpture is completed, the surface is crusted with slag. The color is not even, because heat causes various changes according to its intensity. A piece of steel may range from sooty black through various shades of blue and gray. If brazing has been done, the fumes of the flux have produced a variety of colors, often quite beautiful, but unfortunately not permanent; they come off when the piece is handled because they are powdery, without any adhesive quality.

    To achieve even color, the entire piece must be cleaned. My usual procedure is to...

    (pp. 40-43)

    ARC-WELDING requires equipment somewhat more expensive than that for oxyacetylene welding, the welding machine itself being the major item. But most sculptor-welders have litle occasion to use, or little need for, an arc welded joint.

    When two pieces of steel more than a quarter inch thick are joined together, arc-welding will save time and give a stronger joint. When it is necessary to weld thick castings, or steel more than a half inch thick, arc-welding is the only practical solution, because it is almost imposible to weld such thickness by the oxyacctylene method. You will find, however, that on the...

    (pp. 44-49)

    THE president of Wisconsin State College at River Falls approached me with a project he had in mind: a large sculpture on the highway side of a new field house. He asked me to make suggestions embodying the college symbol, the falcon, and I produced the sketch shown in Plate 40. The design pleased him, and also the students. A committee was formed and the students started to raise funds by their own activities. I was especially pleased that the students wanted the sculpture enough to work for it themselves, though almost three years elapsed before they achieved their goal....

    (pp. 50-54)

    WELDING is an excellent technique for making small models or sketches, and particularly valuable when one has to prepare sketches for architectural commissions. Welded sketches have the virtue of being permanent, and, if made to the proper scale, they can be incorporated in the architect’s model of a projected building and thus studied for suitability to environment and to the over-all scale of the project. Also, the visual effect of the finished job can be more accurately presented to the customer than is possible with drawings.

    Other aspects of the welded sketch or model should not be overlooked. The customer...

    (pp. 55-78)

    THE possibilities of the oxyacetylene welding for sculpture are practically limitless, depending upon the artist on the working end of the torch — what he wants to say in his work and how much technical ability he brings to bear in its expression.

    Plate 57 shows a sculpture that says little and gives evidence of little technical knowledge. It is merely a few preshaped pieces of metal welded together to form a “construction” or design. This kind of welded sculpture, so easy for the amateur to manufacture, is what has caused some critics to dismiss the medium as one of minor...

    (pp. 79-104)

    TO SUGGEST the variety of welded sculpture being produced in the United States, I am including examples by artists from various parts of the country. I could have included hundreds more, by as many different artists, but the few reproduced here — ranging from the realistic portrait head through abstraction — serve to illustrate the adaptability of the welding technique to sculptors’ individual expression.

    I have made no comments on this sculpture, merely giving the names of the sculptors and their place of residence when their sculpture was executed, together with materials used and height. No comment is made because I feel...

    (pp. 107-108)
    (pp. 109-109)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 110-111)